Sunday, October 30, 2016

Jacob Dickert Flintlock

From the 1760s to his death in 1822 Jacob Dickert was both a military contractor and a respected Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, gunmaker. Dickert was born in Germany in 1740 and arrived in the colonies in 1748 with his parents. He is believed to have made weapons for the Continental Army and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania during the revolution, but his first known contract is dated 1792. He owned a gun barrel boring mill a few miles from his gun factory in Manheim Township. He later took his grandson on as an apprentice and then business partner. Despite his long career and the large number of rifles he undoubtedly produced, examples of Dickert's work are extremely rare today. This example is signed "J. [faint design] Dickert" on the barrel near the breech. The faint design is likely the crossed tomahawk and arrow touch mark pictured on page 81 of "Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in Its Golden Age" in the discussion on Dickert. Kindig notes that Dickert is among the earliest long rifle makers about whom much is known.  The patch box is a unique rattlesnake design. A few other rifles are known to employ this motif.  

The rattlesnake first became a well known American symbol when it was used in Benjamin Franklin's May 9, 1754, "Join, or Die" cartoon. This cartoon called for the colonies to come together and resist the French and was later used again to call the colonies together to fight against the British. The snake design was also used on the Culpeper Minute Men, First Navy Jack, and Gadsden flags during the revolution. The timber rattlesnake was a significant symbol in the era and the first decades of the new American republic. These snakes are only found in North America including much of the original colonies. Despite many modern myths, many in the Revolutionary knew that rattlesnakes only strike when provoked, but do not hesitate to respond with deadly force. This image fit the idea the revolutionaries had of themselves. They were not aggressors; they were defending themselves from British attacks on their natural rights.

This rifle recently sold at auction for $28,750.


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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

“Join or Die”

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin's famous “Join or Die” political cartoon drawing wasn't about the Revolutionary War?

It first appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754. 
It was Franklin's hope that his image of a snake comprised of separate segments would foster a sense of colonial unity during the French and Indian War. 

It wasn't until a decade later that the colonies recycled the illustration as tensions increased with Great Britain in the lead up to the Revolutionary War.


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Sunday, October 16, 2016

John Noll Flintlock

This slender longrifle is a classic example of John Noll's work and as expected signed "JOHN NOLL" on the top of the barrel. 

John Noll (1747-1824) was a late 18th and early 19th century gunmaker active in Lancaster and Franklin counties in Pennsylvania. 
It has the typical Noll "IN" silver barrel stamp at the breech. 
Joe Kindig, Jr. notes: "John Noll is the only Kentucky rifle maker I know of who used a little silver mark like this. Marks of this type, but usually with a gold background, were often used by European gunsmiths." Kindig also notes: "John Noll was one of the really great master gunsmiths during the Golden Age of the Kentucky rifle. He made beautiful long slender guns." 
As you can see this rifle certainly fits Kindig's description. 
The rifle has the classic blade and notch groove sights nearly always found on these early rifles, a full length maple stock with primarily brass furniture including the engraved patch box, engraved silver escutcheons, and intricate carving especially on the left side of the butt below and to the rear of the cheekpiece. 


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Folding Knifes

The earliest known pocketknives date to at least the early Iron Age. A pocketknife with a bone handle was found at the Hallstatt Culture type site in Austria, dating to around 600-500 BC. Iberian folding-blade knives made by indigenous artisans and craftsmen and dating to the pre-Roman era have been found in Spain.

Image result for roman folding knife
Roman pocketknife specimen, found in the Mediterranean area with a  modern reconstruction beside it,

The pistol grip Gully knife was a pocket knife that was most likely used for fighting. Examples have been found dating back to the 1600s. 

Between 1650 and 1700, the peasant knife (or “penny knife”) became an affordable and widely distributed option for the first time in history. Sheffield, England became the epicenter of production. The cost made them popular items with farmers and workers.

Somewhere around 1660 the Slipjoint knife was created. They featured a backspring that kept them in the open position. While not widely available at the time, the style would become the basis for many utility pocket knives made today. Once the Industrial Age hit, mass production became more feasible and
they grew in popularity.


With that bit of history it brings us to folding knifes by today's contemporary artists from the Contemporary Makers Blog

Dan Aubil 

Scott Summerville

Steve Auvenshine

Bob Harn

Brian Barker

Jeff Helms

Wayne Watson


Sunday, October 9, 2016

The North & Cheney Model 1799 Pistol

Image result for North & Cheney Model 1799

During the Revolutionary War, the Americans fielded a mix of British, French, German, Dutch and home-grown pistols, which created an inventory of different styles and calibers of varying degrees of serviceability. In the late 1700's the United States decided to standardize its military arms. 

The US government issued two different contracts to Simeon North of Berlin, Connecticut, to manufacture the first U.S.martial pistol, the Model 1799 North & Cheney. North would build a total of 2000 pistols between 1799 and 1802. 

It was the first official model of pistol adopted by the United States. It is also the first of the numerous U.S. contract pistols manufactured by Simeon North.
The pistol closely resembles the French M.1799 flintlock pistol but has several distinctive features including a one-inch longer barrel, rounded breech assembly and extra barrel screw on the lower front edge of the frame. It has a distinctive brass frame with no fore stock, frizzen spring with rear facing apex, side mounted iron button head ramrod and one-piece walnut handle. 
The round, iron, smoothbore barrel does not have front or rear sights. The pistol has a convex, reinforced, hammer and an integral brass pan with no fence. The back strap is iron and the buttcap and trigger guard are brass. 

Collectors estimate that only about 20 Model 1799 pistols still exist today; surviving examples are of great historical significance and are among the rarest U.S. martial arms.

This pistol has the second contract markings that consist of: "NORTH & CHENEY BERLIN" in an arched curve on the underside of the brass frame. The "NORTH" and "CHENEY" markings lack the initials in front of each name that are found on early Model 1799 pistols.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Hunting Shirt

"The ubiquitous hunting shirt worn by American forces during the American Revolution was an unknown garment to New Englanders prior to the arrival of William Thompson, Daniel Morgan, and Michael Cresap’s famed frontier riflemen (from Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland respectively) at Cambridge Camp in July and August of 1775 during the Siege of Boston. The linen hunting shirt was a backcountry garment which came about on the American frontier in the years prior to the American Revolution. The garment was synonymous with the American frontier. By August of 1775, the army George Washington commanded at Cambridge Camp was destitute, lacked proper clothing, and was in no way uniformed in a traditional military sense. In an effort to cheaply and effectively clothe his troops Washington attempted to outfit the newly formed Continental Army with hunting shirts, but the hunting shirt was not adopted as a uniform of the Continental Army until 1776. The Cambridge Camp General Orders dated August 7, 1775 stated: “…the General has hopes of prevailing with the Continental Congress to give each man a hunting shirt…” Washington would later write in a General Order dated July 24, 1776, “No dress can be cheaper, nor more convenient, as the wearer may be cool in the warm weather and warm in cool weather by putting on under-cloathes which will not change the outward dress, Winter or Summer – besides which it is a dress justly supposed to carry no small terror to the enemy, who think every such person (so dressed) is a complete marksman.” Hunting shirts were not worn by the New England Patriots who fought at Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, and the Siege of Boston. The hunting shirt was not adopted as a uniform for New England regiments serving in the Continental Army until mid-1776."

The above is just a sampling, of the valuable information, from a great article  by John W. Penny HERE
"A Primer to the Clothing the New England Patriots Wore."
It is an older article but worth your time.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Virginia Manufactory Flintlock Pistols

On January 23, 1798, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law authorizing the Governor to establish an armory in the Richmond area. Doing so Virginia would be assured by not having to depend upon European or federal arms. Uniformity and quality of weapons could be obtained under the acute eyes of the local government. Also, the monies spent in the arms-making endeavor could be expected to remain in circulation within the state for the benefit of all residents.

The new armory would be named the Virginia Manufactory and was the first state owned armory to successfully manufacture a complete line of weapons for its militia. Beginning in 1802 through the end of operations in 1821, the Virginia Manufactory of Arms produced 4252 pistols. (58,000 flintlock muskets - 2,000 flintlock rifles - 10,000 swords - 300 cannons)

In 1804, the Virginia Manufactory began to dabble in pistol making using burst musket barrels, provided no flaws or other defects existed in the shortened sections.

Pistol making began in earnest in 1805. The pistols were made in two models.
The 1st Model pistol, above, was produced between 1805- 1811.
The 2nd Model pistol, below, was produced between 1812- 1815.
The first few 1st model pistols had hickory ramrods the balance, had steel ramrods with the 2nd Model using the swivel style. 

The Virginia Manufactory closed on December 31, 1821. In 1861 the Confederate Government reopened the armory, where it was known as the Richmond Armory. During the Civil War Virginia’s militia inventory of arms were altered to percussion weapons.